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Understanding Islam

12 July 2008

Understanding Islam

The ways in which children learn about Islam from their family is the focal point of a new research project by the University.

Led by Dr Jonathan Scourfield of the School of Social Science, and Dr Sophie Gilliat-Ray of the University’s Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK, the project, ‘Religious Nurture in Muslim Families’, will explore the process by which parents and other family members attempt to teach religious beliefs and practices to children.

The team, which includes researchers Mrs Asma Khan and Mr Sameh Otri of the School, aims to answer a number of questions. These include the practicalities of bringing children up amongst a non-Muslim society, children’s own understanding of their religion, and differences between families by religious tradition, ethnic background and social class.

Mrs Khan said: "There is little or no sociological research which focuses on Muslim children in early and middle childhood. Previous research has shown that Muslims are more successful than other religious groups at passing on their religion to their children and we would like to find out why this is."

The researchers are currently recruiting Muslim families from Cardiff to take part in the project. The research will take the form of interviews with parents, children and other family members, and children will be asked, with their parents’ permission, to keep diaries and take photographs of important events and places for learning Islam.

Participants will not be identified in any way during the research, and throughout the project, the team will be supported by an advisory group, which includes senior members of Islamic community groups, educational institutions and mosques.

Families interested in taking part in the research should contact the project office on: 02929 875 069 or visit the project website:

Religious Nurture in Muslim Families is funded by the AHRC and ESRC under their ‘Religion and Society’ programme.